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'Mini-PCNL' Surgery Has Higher Stone-Free Rate in Treating Intermediate-Size Kidney Stones

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Newswise — May 10, 2023 – For patients with kidney stones measuring one to two centimeters, a technique called mini-percutaneous nephrolithotomy (mini-PCNL) provides a higher stone elimination rate than another minimally invasive procedure called ureteroscopy (URS), concludes a randomized trial in the June issue of The Journal of Urology®, an Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA). The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

"In our clinical trial, mini-PCNL was more likely to achieve stone-free outcomes, compared to URS," comments senior author Jorge Gutierrez-Aceves, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic. "In patients with intermediate-sized kidney stones, mini-PCNL may offer a more effective procedure, with similar safety and cost impact."

Trial compares minimally invasive surgeries for intermediate stones

Kidney stones are one of the problems most commonly seen by urologists. In current AUA guidelines, conventional PCNL surgery is recommended for patients with stones larger than two centimeters, while less-invasive treatments are recommended for symptomatic stones smaller than one centimeter.

However, there is ongoing debate over treatment for intermediate-size stones – measuring one to two centimeters. In the URS procedure, kidney stones are approached using a small instrument (ureteroscope) placed through the urethra and bladder.

Mini-PCNL offers an alternative approach, with treatment carried out through a small incision (sometimes called a keyhole incision) in the patient's side. Previous studies comparing the outcomes of URS and mini-PCNL have had important limitations.

In the new study, 101 patients with one- to two-centimeter kidney stones were randomly assigned to treatment with URS or mini-PCNL. All patients had a single intermediate-sized stone in one kidney. In both procedures, once the surgeon visualized the stone through instruments placed into the kidney, the stone was fragmented using a laser and removed using a basket device.

Mini-PCNL has higher stone-free rate than URS, with similar safety

The main outcome of interest was the stone-free rate, defined as no residual stone larger than two millimeters on postoperative CT scans. By this definition, 76% of patients were stone-free after mini-PCNL, compared to 46% after URS. The mini-PCNL group also had a lower total volume of residual stone fragments after treatment: 3.6 versus 1.4 millimeters.

Postoperative complication rates were low in both groups: 2% after mini-PCNL and 4% after URS. Other safety outcomes were similar as well, including the need for a second procedure within 30 days and changes in creatinine as an indicators of kidney function.

In this study, patients in the mini-PCNL group spent a night in the hospital, compared to none in the URS group. The mini-PCNL procedure had higher costs compared to URS. However, these differences were offset by a nonsignificant operating margin between groups.

The study provides new information for the "nuanced" decision-making process for treatment of kidney stones measuring one to two centimeters. The researchers authors note their study is the largest North American randomized trial to directly compare mini-PCNL versus URS for this group of patients.

"Our results suggest that mini-PCNL is more likely to render patients stone-free than URS, with no difference in complications, surgical times, and operating margins," Dr. Gutierrez-Aceves comments. The researchers discuss the cost impact of mini-PCNL, including the impact on equipment and hospitalization costs.

Read [Outcomes and Costs Following Mini-percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Flexible Ureteroscopic Lithotripsy for 1-2–cm Renal Stones: Data From a Prospective, Randomized Clinical Trial]

Wolters Kluwer provides trusted clinical technology and evidence-based solutions that engage clinicians, patients, researchers and students in effective decision-making and outcomes across healthcare. We support clinical effectiveness, learning and research, clinical surveillance and compliance, as well as data solutions. For more information about our solutions, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @WKHealth.


About The Journal of Urology®

The Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA), and the most widely read and highly cited journal in the field, The Journal of Urology® brings solid coverage of the clinically relevant content needed to stay at the forefront of the dynamic field of urology. This premier journal presents investigative studies on critical areas of research and practice, survey articles providing brief editorial comments on the best and most important urology literature worldwide and practice-oriented reports on significant clinical observations. The Journal of Urology® covers the wide scope of urology, including pediatric urology, urologic cancers, renal transplantation, male infertility, urinary tract stones, female urology and neurourology.

About the American Urological Association

Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is a leading advocate for the specialty of urology, and has more than 23,000 members throughout the world. The AUA is a premier urologic association, providing invaluable support to the urologic community as it pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care through education, research and the formulation of health care policy. To learn more about the AUA visit:

About Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer (EURONEXT: WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the healthcare, tax and accounting, financial and corporate compliance, legal and regulatory, and corporate performance and ESG sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services.

Wolters Kluwer reported 2022 annual revenues of €5.5 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.

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